gourds

Musicians often disparage board tapes, the live recordings made through a concert PA system. It’s what they don’t capture—stage volume, energy, charisma—that somehow makes them less-than-perfect artifacts. So it goes with GOURDS albums. The Austin group is unquestionably one of Texas’s best, but things can get lost in translation on their way to the tape machine. Gourds sessions are largely matter-of-fact; they stubbornly shun producers and record the arrangements they learn for the stage. Nonetheless, BLOOD OF THE RAM (Eleven Thirty) is another fine set of songs, awash in delights, including the bawdy “Illegal Oyster,” a faux Al Green take on “Escalade” (yep, the SUV), and the roof-raising “Do 4 U.” They’d be household names if the very traits that endear them to the old fans weren’t the same ones that keep the uninitiated at bay.

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